Dear Fathers, Friends in Christ,
The men offered sacrifice and made vows to him. (Jonah 1:16)
What do the stories of Jonah and the Good Samaritan have in common? Well, for one thing, they both reveal in dramatic fashion that sometimes, the unlikeliest people are capable of the deepest faith and obedience.
Think about the mariners who shared the boat with Jonah. These men were sea-hardy worshippers of foreign gods. When Jonah admitted that he worshipped the God of Israel who had created all things, they were “seized with great fear,” immediately believing that this God existed (Jonah 1:10). In a turn of events, they were reluctant to throw him overboard, while Jonah had been unwilling to spare the city of Nineveh. And after Jonah’s ejection, these salty pagans vowed allegiance to the Lord!
Think of those Ninevites. At the height of their civic power and vice, they repented, humbling themselves in sackcloth and ashes because of the warnings of one foreign-born prophet who smelled of fish.
Think about the Good Samaritan, too. Would anyone have expected him to be moved by compassion at the sight of his enemy bleeding in the dust? He was the least likely to help, yet he responded extravagantly while the priest and Levite turned away.
Think about the people in your life. There are probably some that you think must be really far from God—maybe because of how they dress, speak, or behave. Judging by today’s readings, perhaps they’re closer than you think!
Often, we can see clear reflections of the Lord in these unlikely heroes, in areas where we might need some work. If we take a deeper look, we might notice that he teaches us something new about loving and accepting people where they are at, instead of where we want them to be. She boldly and unashamedly stands up for her values in the workplace. His family has dealt with great challenges, yet they remain intensely loyal to one another. It’s not to say that these folks have it all together. After all, no one does. We all need to experience deeper conversion— including the Ninevites and mariners in our lives. But that’s the point. We can learn from each other. And God will continue to reveal himself in the most surprising places!
“Lord, come and surprise me today.”
Jonah 2:3-5, 8
Father Ed Bakker
Anglican Catholic Church / Original Province
Mission of Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne
Bendigo in the Central Goldfields